Head, Department of Molecular Medicine
Dr. Ariela Benigni was born in Bergamo, Italy, in 1955. She got her M.Sc. in Biological Sciences at the University of Milan in 1979. Since 1980 she joined the group of Prof. Giuseppe Remuzzi at the Division of Nephrology and Dialysis, Ospedali Riuniti di Bergamo. After a fast - doctoral fellowship at the Centre Regional de Transfusion Sanguigne de Strasbourg, she began her career at the Mario Negri Institute in Bergamo participating to the unique group of basic scientists and clinicians working with Prof. Giuseppe Remuzzi in the field of renal diseases progression. She was appointed in 1991 as Scientific Secretary of Mario Negri Institute in Bergamo, and since January 2000 she is the Head of Department of Molecular Medicine. In 2001 she obtained the PhD degree at the University of Maastricht. She is author of over 200 among scientific articles and reviews. She was invited to give lectures to several national and international meetings.
From 1996 to 2003 she was Associate Editor of the Journal of Nephrology and from 2003 to 2005 of Kidney International. At present, she is Associate Editor of International Journal of Artificial Organs.
In her research activity she has made major advances in various areas of nephrology, with particular focus on mediators of progressive renal injury in experimental models as well as human diabetic and non diabetic nephropathies from the early studies of prostaglandins (which also were instrumental to understand their role in pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia) to the most recent ones on endothelin. Her studies on the role of podocytes and podocyte proteins in diabetic and non diabetic renal diseases have contributed to understand the pathogenesis of proteinuria and the role of ACE inhibitors as therapeutic tools to halt and even reverse chronic kidney damage. While studying the protective effect of ACE inhibitors, her group found the existence of renal progenitor cells in the rat gromerulus that possibly replace the loss of podocytes due to the disease.
Another research interest of Dr. Benigni is to find out effective methods of gene transfer to the kidney with the final aim to achieve tolerance to the graft. She showed that ex vivo transfection of the donor organ with DNA encoding immunomodulatory proteins before transplantation prevents acute and chronic rejection of the graft in the rat without the need of immunosuppressive therapy.
List of publications